Saturday, November 29, 2008

Barley - Health Benefits

Barley or Hordeum vulgare in Latin is a cereal grain and a member of the grass family. It is mainly used as an animal feed and also for malting and is a key ingredient in beer and whisky production.

It has half the fat and 50% more fiber than oats. It is a rich source of beta-glucan soluble fiber. It contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B, calcium, niacin, iron magnesium and zinc. Here are the health benefits of barley:

Promote healthy blood sugar: The fiber content in barley will prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high. Those suffering from Type 2 diabetes should consume more barley.

Reduce cholesterol: Beta-glucan from barley’s soluble fiber is responsible for lowering cholesterol.

Lower the risk of some types of cancer: Barley is rich in selenium and together with fiber it helps prevent colon cancer and breast cancer.

Heart friendly: Regular consumption of barley reduces heart disease. In 2005 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that whole grain barley and barley –containing products are allowed to claim that they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. It is a good source of niacin, a B vitamin that provides numerous protective actions against cardiovascular risk factors.

Weight management: Barley is good for the control of weight and obesity as it is rich in beta-glucan soluble fiber. Eating fiber-rich foods may help increase satiety or a feeling of fullness.

Protection against childhood asthma: Consumption of barley could help reduce the risk of childhood asthma by about 50%.

According to the religion of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad prescribed barley, known as “At-Talbina” in Arabic, for seven diseases:

high cholesterol
heart disease
soothing and calming effects for the bowel
Slowing of age

We often boil barley in water as a refreshing drink. It reduces heatiness and after drinking, it stimulates urination. The other healthy dessert among Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore is a mixture of 薏米, 腐竹, 白果 (yimi, fuzhu, baiguo) barley, beancurb skin and gingko nuts.

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